Hosea is a book about the unrequited, rejected love of God for his people.
It is one of the oldest (760 BC) books of the Bible, from before the Torah/Pentateuch. Discusses the Fall of the Northern Kingdom, and the many false gods/idols (Baal, the Canaanite storm god, and Asherah, a Canaanite fertility goddess) the people of Israel have chosen above God. I've selected some of the important sections to consider and mediate on.
- What strikes you about the words God speaks through Hosea?
- Why do the people leave God to “consult wooden idols, diviner’s rods”?
- What does God say will happen with the people?
- How does God want this to end, and how will he get this to occur?
Chapter 1: 1 The word of the Lord that came to Hosea son of Beeri during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the reign of Jeroboam son of Jehoash[a] king of Israel:.....
2 When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.”
Chapter 4: Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites,
because the Lord has a charge to bring
against you who live in the land:
“There is no faithfulness, no love,
no acknowledgment of God in the land.
2 There is only cursing,[a] lying and murder,
stealing and adultery;
they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
3 Because of this the land dries up,
and all who live in it waste away;
the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky
and the fish in the sea are swept away.
“Because you have rejected knowledge,
I also reject you as my priests;
because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.
7 The more priests there were,
the more they sinned against me;
they exchanged their glorious God[b] for something disgraceful.
8 They feed on the sins of my people
and relish their wickedness.
9 And it will be: Like people, like priests.
I will punish both of them for their ways
and repay them for their deeds.
10 “They will eat but not have enough;
they will engage in prostitution but not flourish,
because they have deserted the Lord
to give themselves 11 to prostitution;
old wine and new wine take away their understanding.
12 My people consult a wooden idol,
and a diviner’s rod speaks to them.
Chapter 6: What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?
What shall I do with you, O Judah?
Your love is like a morning cloud,
like the dew that goes early away.
5 Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets;
I have slain them by the words of my mouth,
and my judgment goes forth as the light.
6 For I desire steadfast love[a] and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
Chapter 7: 14 They do not cry to me from the heart,
but they wail upon their beds;
for grain and wine they gash themselves;
they rebel against me.
15 Although I trained and strengthened their arms,
yet they devise evil against me.
16 They return, but not upward;[b]
they are like a treacherous bow;
their princes shall fall by the sword
because of the insolence of their tongue.
This shall be their derision in the land of Egypt.
Chapter 8: 12 Were I to write for him my laws by the ten thousands,
they would be regarded as a strange thing.
13 As for my sacrificial offerings,
they sacrifice meat and eat it,
but the Lord does not accept them.
Now he will remember their iniquity
and punish their sins;
they shall return to Egypt.
14 For Israel has forgotten his Maker
and built palaces,
and Judah has multiplied fortified cities;
so I will send a fire upon his cities,
and it shall devour her strongholds.
Chapter 10: Sow for yourselves righteousness;
reap steadfast love;
break up your fallow ground,
for it is the time to seek the Lord,
that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.
13 You have plowed iniquity;
you have reaped injustice;
you have eaten the fruit of lies.
Because you have trusted in your own way
and in the multitude of your warriors,
14 therefore the tumult of war shall arise among your people,
and all your fortresses shall be destroyed,
Chapter 14: Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.
2 Take with you words and return to the Lord;
say to him, “Take away all iniquity;
accept what is good,
and we will pay with bulls
the vows[a] of our lips.
3 Assyria shall not save us;
we will not ride on horses;
and we will say no more, ‘Our God,’
to the work of our hands.
In you the orphan finds mercy.”
4 I will heal their apostasy;
I will love them freely,
for my anger has turned from them.
5 I will be like the dew to Israel;
he shall blossom like the lily;
he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon;
6 his shoots shall spread out;
his beauty shall be like the olive,
and his fragrance like Lebanon.
7 They shall return and dwell beneath my[b] shadow; they shall flourish like the grain;
they shall blossom like the vine;
their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.
8 O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols?
It is I who answer and look after you.[c]
I am like an evergreen cypress;
from me comes your fruit.
9 Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the Lord are right,
and the upright walk in them,
but transgressors stumble in them.